A United Nations official has delivered a firm statement on
international religious freedom with which USCIRF agrees.
Elizabeth Cassidy of the U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom (USCIRF) was present when Heiner Bielefeldt, the U.N.
special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, delivered the report to the General
"It was a very strong report, and he took on an
issue that is somewhat controversial in some parts of the world, an
important issue, and I think he got it right," she responds.
And the USCIRF spokesperson adds that it is a message her group
welcomes -- "that international law does protect the
rights that he discussed in his report, that a necessary part of
freedom of religion is both the right to convert, the right not to
be forced to convert or to reconvert, and basically the right to
proselytize -- what he called the right to try to convert others by
means of non-coercive persuasion."
While the reports are not binding in any way, Cassidy says they
do shine a light on the issue and help apply pressure to countries
that do not respect religious freedom. She adds that the USCIRF
will be able to use the report in conversations with some of those
countries where persecution against religious minorities or those
who convert to other religions is prevalent.